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Concord is the result of deal-making

I am curious why the site for the new low-income housing was chosen when it was so small and thus cost more to build. With all the larger lots available around town, why was that site chosen, particularly with all the vacant buildings that could be made into apartments?

— Rex Z., Medford

We’re assuming you’re talking about the low-income housing project on Grape Street behind the Mail Tribune. The four-story, 50-unit complex known as The Concord is currently under construction.

As to your question, the Jackson County Housing Authority settled on this property after working out a deal with the city of Medford.

Originally, the housing authority wanted to build a 100-unit Cherry Creek housing project on Spring Street. However, the project faced opposition from local residents and from the Medford City Council.

After some negotiations, the Housing Authority reduced the size of the Spring Street complex from 100 to 50 units and transferred 2.5 acres of the 6-acre property to the city for parkland and a buffer between the complex and Spring Street. In exchange, the city agreed to swap the commercially zoned lot on Grape Street in the downtown for low-income housing. It was previously a city-owned parking lot, with a restaurant on one corner.

The Concord has received $12.5 million in tax credits, grants and loans from Oregon Housing and Community Services.

If you look at The Concord, you will notice it’s a pretty stout looking structure with lots of steel and reinforced masonry. As you can imagine, Rex, with so many government dollars attached to the project, it has to be a well-built structure that is constructed with modern seismic standards. An existing vacant building would be more difficult to upgrade to these latest standards.

The Concord also has to meet various Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Some of the rooms in the Concord are being specially designed for those with disabilities.

—Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.